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CYC-Online Issue 53 JUNE 2003 / BACK
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care workers

Values

Tabrina Legault

Values are the things that one can attach importance to and think highly of. A value is a person's judgment of what is valuable or important in their life and how they feel about a belief that they hold. Values give meaning to our lives, allowing us to see reality with understanding and the passion to carry out our plans. Education, upbringing, culture and external influences play a large part in our value choices. Values are rules that help you live your life – allowing you to decide right from wrong, and to deal with situations that occur daily in our lives.

"Achieving starts with believing" (Smith, 1999, p.13). In order for people to achieve their values, then they must first believe in them. All too often I have heard people state something that they hold valuable, and when they try to achieve it they realize that they really don’t believe in it. A cousin told me once that he valued family. When given the choice to go home or party with friends at Christmas, he chose to party, thus he did not achieve his value because he did not act on or believe it. In order to know myself, I need to define and achieve my values and act on them. I believe in the values I hold and I have seen them flow into my relationships and into every decision I make.

I will examine three values that I believe are significant to my life and how I came to hold them. I will discuss their development, and how they will impact the work that I will do with children in my future in the Child and Youth Care field, as well as how they will affect me professionally. The values: courage, faith, and family have guided the decisions I have made in the past, and the ones that I face in the future. There have been many situations where these values have emerged, and I will explore some of them as they have been the times of awakening in my life. It was then that I achieved the beliefs that created the values of courage, faith and family.

My values

Courage
I firmly believe that courage comes in many forms like spiritual and physical courage, but the courage that I value is the courage to take risks. To be able to take risks and make choices in order to overcome a weakness or fear, means having the courage to make significant changes in your life. Choosing to take a risk requires courage, but to overcome the fear of failure, shows the courage to live and learn. “If your life is free of failures, you’re not taking enough risks" (Smith, 1999, p.27). This quote tells me that having the courage to fail, inevitably means that the courage to take the risks in order to succeed, comes hand in hand. I have often found solace in the poem “Today is the Day" as it describes everyday courage. (see Appendix A)

A risk that I took in my life showed me that I have the courage to do anything and to risk everything for what I believe in. I have a strong belief I justice, which stems from a three year battle in the court systems which left me realizing what I valued in life. I never would have thought that I had the courage to go through what I have, and I am grateful that I had the courage to take that risk. In order for me to continue in the court process, I had to risk losing my family, the friends I had thought I had, my dignity in front of what seemed like hundreds of people, and I risked losing who I thought I was and what I thought was reality. I took the plunge and found myself struggling with my own identity and place in the world; accepting the changes that my family was going through, the anguish of tearing a family apart, and telling myself that it was for the right reasons and that I was not to blame.

The courage I found to get me through this time in my life allowed me to succeed in court, and to understand the dynamics of family. I learned, to my surprise, that I am an individual and what I did took courage, it was an awakening experience. The courage to take risks also led me through one more success in court while trying to succeed in my first year of college. It gave me strength to choose a career path and take the risk that I may not be successful, but if I fail, I know I have the courage to take another risk. During this time not only did I find the courage to take the risks that I did, but I also found that I relied heavily on something that I never thought of before, faith.

Faith
Faith is often misconstrued by many people as simply believing in God. This is a false belief as faith can mean many things, from God to trusting who you are, and to believing that everything has a reason. Faith to me means just that; everything happens for a reason and that I have to have faith in myself to find the courage to face each day. V.C Andrews wrote in her book Web of Dreams that, “Promises are like spider webs we weave to trap our own dreams, but dreams have a way of thinning out until you are left with nothing but the web" (Andrews,1990 p.16). This quote is speaking of having faith to dream and to not make false promises.

It is easy to think that you are a person of faith and that you believe in a higher power, but sometimes that faith is shattered by an unjust happening and you loose that magical image of faith. When I was young I was also naive. I though that saying that I had faith meant something, until I realised that I didn’t know what I really meant. I wrote a poem that shows a young teen trying to grasp faith and what it means (see appendix B). I now can say that I value faith because I found that it meant believing in myself, having faith in my abilities and also to think that everything has a reason, even if I don’t understand it yet, but I will try. There is a saying that describes the amount of faith that we put into trusting ourselves that I find inspiring:

Sometimes we all wonder how things come to be – the chain of events. “A” leads to “B” leads to “C” leads to “Z”. each life is made up of a million little decisions. What to wear? What street to walk on? What to eat for lunch? And all of these seemingly inconsequential choices might change your life forever. But who can live with that kind of responsibility? It would paralyse you to think about it. So you have to trust your instinct – what Greeks might call your character. And so you better pray to whatever God you believe in that your character knows what the hell it’s doing. – unknown Author

Family
A persons family can mean many things to them, it can be the “source of our deepest attachments, as well as our most bitter and painful conflicts" (Arnett, 2001, p.186). Whatever form a person's family comes in (divorced, single parent, adopted or same sex relations ) the opportunity to learn from any situation is within every family. No family is exempt from the realities of the world and the pain of loss. For most people, despite any complications, “... a family remains the crucial source of love, support, protection and comfort" (Allen & Land, 1999; Steinberg, 1990, p.22). Family members, usually parents, are the people with whom we form our closest attachments.

This is true for myself as well. In the past two years my family has grown from my two siblings, my parents and grandparents, to a fiancé, three year old son, future in-laws and various cousins aunts and extended family members. In this time I have had to learn to be a mother and a friend, a confident to my partner, a supporter and student all at once. Although the challenge seems great, it is a daily one that I am learning from while receiving support from my family, as they learn to adjust too. No longer do I always go home for Christmas; I spend it this year instead with my new family. I have always valued my parents and through my adolescence I learned just how important they are to me. I went through really tough times, often hurting my parents and breaking their trust only to spend years to regaining it. But I realized that no matter what choices I made, they were there supporting me or at least there to help me up when I fell. My siblings also taught me that my life is theirs too. Only now am I learning how my actions when I was younger have affected them and their futures. My sister now wants to be a lawyer and my brother a police officer due to a choice I made years ago that turned my family upside down and right side up at the same time; and it has made all the difference in the world to them.

Through the tough times and the good my parents and family have been there. A story featured in Chicken Soup for the College Soul – A Dad Says Goodbye” (Danziger,1999, p.39), there is an article written by a father to his daughter about how he feels when she leaves for college. This reminds me of the support I received from my own father, and how our relationship has grown into one of friendship and respect over the last years. The recent loss of my grandfather has also brought us closer than ever as we realize that time is short and we live only once. Family is a value that holds me together and reminds me that I have courage, and I have faith because my family believes in me and will support my life no matter what.

Development of values
Vanessa Scrivens wrote in her essay on values:

When the concepts of the values that I now hold were first made clear to me, many doors opened. With no other place to go, I walked freely through the doorways. Once past my place of unknowing, I found a world full of choice and decision. (Scrivens, 2001, p.43)

The values I developed over the years were not always clear to me. I did not always realize that I valued courage, faith and family. It was not until I began to realize my own self-worth did I realize too that the beliefs I held about these values were so important to me.

I knew that I had courage, people were always telling me when I was a young adolescence about how courageous I was and how much courage it must take to go through the court system and face a child molester. I used to think that they were just telling me that to make me feel better and that it was never really meant. Well, yes, I realize now that they did say it to make me feel better, but it was also what helped me go back into the court room and tell my story to seven new faces after the first hung-jury. My family had tremendous courage as well; not all families could survive such a large obstacle in their lives. My younger sister and brother had the courage to go to school and have no shame in telling their friends what had happened within our family. We all thought it important to shelter no-one and to make the truth be known and educated to the people in our lives. That took courage on part of everyone involved. My grandparents were pillars of strength and taught me to be courageous and have faith. They had lost a daughter in the process because she had refused to accept that her husband would do such a thing; and threatened the life of a niece she once loved for saying such “lies”. My grandparents took no sides and left the relationship open to her decision. Sadly the only time she saw them since the trial many years ago was this past June; at my grandfathers' funeral where the healing began for mother and daughter.

From these events I developed the faith that everything happened for a reason. I chose the career I did because of the chain of events in my childhood. I could not have gotten through the tough days without the faith that life holds reason for everything and that justice comes, even if I do not see it. It took a long time to admit to myself that I never lost faith, even though I told myself that all the time. I used to unfairly torture myself by crying every night to a God I really did not believe in to “please make it stop." I knew it was an unfair plea and that God could not even abide by those wishes but I have long since realized that it was the only thing I held onto then. I now have faith in a different sense and am glad that I had some then, even if it was a misconstrued idea of God and faith. I have faith in myself, and it has grown within through those tough times, and I now believe in myself more than ever because I am doing something I had only dreamed of, but always kept faith for.

The value I hold of family is clear and I believe that I could not have done anything with out them. I know how lucky I am to have one to turn to, and I know how much they support me and value me in return. I have gone through everything with them and they have been there for me no matter what. Now as I embark on the journey of a new family of my own and a career, they support me. I value my new family as much, if not more because I can teach them and be there for them as my parents were for me. I am excited to share my values and love with them.

I always knew what I valued but it took a few large events and rough days to really come to terms with myself, and what I valued. I believe that my values grow stronger with each passing day and with every obstacle I encounter, because with those obstacles come the faith in myself, the courage to proceed and the support from my family.

Impact on working with youth and children
The values that I hold will play an important part of my interaction with the people I work with and the children I work with. If I am able to show my values in the actions that I do and the beliefs that I hold then it is important that I can stand up for what I believe in and for the children in my care. Children are heavily influenced by the adults in their lives and some will have had very negative parental roles. I will be challenged with working with youth such as these and in these situations I will be forced to test my values.

Children who are at risk require dedication and hard work to achieving the better treatment and skills that we can teach them. It will take courage to deal with difficult clients and youth and it will test my faith at times to come to terms to the hands of fate that these youth have often been dealt. I will have to learn that not all families are like mine, and not all youth value family as they are often from a broken one.

I believe that I will only strengthen my values as I act on them through my future career. As I work with the children in the programs I will become familiar with, not only will my values have an impact on these children and how I am to help them, but I will also learn from them and perhaps be forced to sometimes look back at the roots of the values I hold and to learn about them all over again.

Impact on working with other professionals
It is vital in any profession to have a clear definition of the values you hold, if not then you can not justify the work that you do and the beliefs that you think you hold. Had I never realized the values I have, I would never be competent in my profession and I would not be an asset to the growth of myself and the people I am involved with. I often refer to up lifting quotes on those days that are frustrating and I believe that it is important to keep a good spirit in any profession (See Appendix C). Clear values are what defines a professional, which is vital to the survival of the Child and Youth Care Profession as we all strive to be acknowledged as Professionals.

My values will play an important role in working with other professionals as they are essential to treatment teams and dependability of each other. Knowing that we all have established strong values will enable for effective communication and in being secure of the motives of our co-workers. If I am consistent on acting on my values and carrying them out in my work with my co-workers, I will then develop trust, respect and a sense of security in the workplace. Values are vital in the reactions and actions of professionals and can encourage the rights of children and youth.

Conclusion
The values that I hold impact my life on many different scales and in many different areas. I discussed how courage was important to help me conquer the tasks that I face and to help make decisions in life. This will ultimately benefit my career in that I will have the courage to continue with my education and to make a difference. I hold the value of faith high because it has enabled me to find reason in times when I would have given up, it also gives me strength to believe in myself and to realize the potential that I have. I have talked about family being valuable to me and how a strong family connection has kept me going through the tough times and is encouraging me now through the good. A strong sense of family will help me to understand what some youth don’t have.

The values that I hold will enable me to be successful in my career and in the work I do with youth. I act on these values and carry them out everyday. The foundation for these values are the barriers that I was forced to climb in my youth and I believe that this is the time in a child's life that will impact them the most.

My values developed in my adolescence, and although I was not aware completely of them, I did form the beliefs and basis of the values of faith, family and courage. I have discussed times in my life when my values became clear to me, and these were all obstacles that occurred in my adolescence. It is vital that during this time in a youth’s life they have someone to guide and listen to them. I learned what my values meant to me and I believe that acting on them means to be there for another youth, to show courage, to find something to believe in and to realize family is important. Even if it is not a value to them, it is still there. I can live by my values now, and in my future, because of the lessons I have learned in my past.

References

Allen, J.,& Land, P.(1999). Attachment in adolescence. New York: Guilford

Andrews, V.C.(1990). Web of dreams. Toronto, New York: Pocket Books

Arnett, J.(2001). Adolescence and emerging adulthood: A cultural approach. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Danzinger, J.(1999). A Dad Says Goodbye. In Canfield, J., & Hansen, M. (Eds). Chicken soup for the college soul. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.

Scrivens, V.(2001). Values. Journal of Child and Youth Care, 14(3), 39-47.

Smith, V.(1999). Really useful home book. Art Impressions Inc: Canoga Park, CA

Steinberg, L.(1990). Autonomy, conflict, and harmony in the family relationship. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

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